While road trips might've been the travel method of choice of late (for all-too-obvious reasons), thanks to the relaxing pandemic restrictions, more and more folks are now taking travel itineraries back to the skies. If TSA security lines and tiny bags of peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoff cookies are in your future, but you haven't thought twice about carry-on suitcases in well over a year, it might be time to dust yours off and see if it's up to snuff. Otherwise, you might be due for a refresh.
The best carry-on suitcases on the market today are ultra-durable without feeling heavy, sport thoughtful design features for max maneuverability, and include a variety of interior sections to make packing them for your trip no sweat at all. Once you invest in one of these top-notch carry-ons, it'll stick by your side for years, carrying all your essentials in style.
Below, we've rounded up the best carry-on suitcases available now, each of which passed our functional and aesthetic requirements with, well, flying colors.
Best Hardside Carry-On
With some carry-ons, it can feel like an endless tug-of-war, you pulling in one direction and the suitcase seemingly spinning out in the other. Not so with this high-tech Travelpro select. It features eight self-aligning, magnetic spinner wheels, and a four-stop adjustable handle with an ergonomic grip, so you and the suitcase always move seamlessly in tandem.
On the outside, you’ll find USB ports for your electronics and a polycarbonate shell that bends upon impact, so it won’t crack (not to mention the protective aluminum corner covers). Inside, two zippered panels along with several accessory pockets (including one waterproof section) keep everything in place. And as a bonus, the suitcase expands two extra inches, so you can really load it up—that is, if you won’t need to meet airline carry-on restrictions for your trip.
Best Lightweight Carry-On
Australia-based brand July was founded in 2019 with a name that, according to co-founder and chief strategy office, Athan Didaskalou, evokes happiness and travel no matter where in the world you are. In the northern hemisphere, July symbolizes a time to relax, hit the beach, and take summer vacation, and in the southern hemisphere—including Australia—it’s winter, which is the season that folks often use to travel somewhere warmer.
You’ll practically fly through the airport with this ultralight carry-on in tow. It’s the lightest double-wheeled suitcase in the world at just 3.9 pounds, but still includes the features you’d expect in a heavier-duty suitcase, including smooth-glide double-wheels (so it won’t tip over) and a three-stop telescopic handle. It also sports the brand’s signature “eggshell” round shape, which eliminates corners for extra durability—no matter how many overhead bins it gets tossed in.
Best Carbon Neutral Carry-On
This sleek two-toned beauty from Paravel is easy on the eyes and the planet. The shell is made from recycled polycarbonate, the handle is recycled aluminum, the leather details are vegan, and the cloth lining is made from the material of 15 ocean-bound plastic bottles. Paravel also offsets the carbon emissions involved in creating and shipping the suitcase. In addition to eco benefits, this carry-on doesn’t fall short in the design department, either: It rotates 360 degrees on steel axles with double-spinner wheels and features interior pockets and a removable accessories pouch.
Best Affordable Carry-On
Upon first glance, it may look small, but this Amazon Basics spinner is deceptively deep: One of our editors called it the “suitcase version of Mary Poppins’s bottomless purse.” For its dimensions, it fits more stuff than you’d expect, even without tapping its expandable function. Its shell consists of ABS, a thermoplastic that isn’t typically as durable as polycarbonate, but in this case, is very light and features a scratch-resistant finish. Four double-spinner wheels let it roll in any direction, and three zippered interior pockets keep small items from bouncing around.
Best Stylish Carry-On
To #shaycation in style like actor Shay Mitchell, cop one of her brand Béis’ carry-on rollers in the gray color (you’ll also find them in black and beige). Stain-resistant polycarbonate with a chic ridged design makes up the exterior, while the interior features a full slate of separate sections for organized-packing bliss—a detachable mesh packet, a zippered pouch, and a frosted PVC zippered pocket, among others.
The Béis carry-on also expands an extra two inches and features a cushioned trolley handle, so it’s always a pleasant pull, no matter how much stuff you’ve packed into it. And on that note, perhaps its most unique feature is a built-in weight indicator on the side, which automatically turns red if the weight of the suitcase exceeds 50 pounds.
Best Carry-On With Front Pocket
If you’re going places where your laptop needs to go, too, consider this Calpak carry-on, which sports a separate front section with a sleeve for a laptop or tablet (and a strap to secure it in place). That compartment also includes separate sections for miscellaneous items that you’d like to keep handy, like your passport or keys. A removable accessory pocket and interior divider with its own set of zippered pockets round out the main interior cabin, and the durable polycarbonate exterior comes in four versatile shades: black, pink sand, moss, and hazel.
Best Softside Carry-On
For those who like the flexibility of softside carry-ons (e.g., the ability to stuff in one more article of clothing at the last minute), this Travelpro gives you that option and plenty more. It’s made of a durable nylon that can handle some bumps without showing scuffs, a sturdy aluminum extendable handle with a contoured grip, and spinner wheels. Inside you’ll find accessory pockets and a removable quart-sized wet pocket for all your toiletries, as well as a fold-out suiter to hang clothes you won’t want to get too wrinkly. There’s also a build-in USB port and powerbank pocket on the outside for when you need to quickly charge your devices.
Best Splurge Softside Carry-On
If you’re just looking for a suitcase that can keep up with all your jet-setting adventures, TUMI’s Alpha 3 is pricey but chock full of features. The carry-on is made of a super tough ballistic nylon that’s abrasion-proof, a patented closure system where the zipper is designed to break away if caught, impact-resistant side panels, retractable top and side handles, and Tumi Tracer, a complimentary program that can help you find your registered suitcase if it gets lost in transit. Plus, there’s tons of pockets inside and out, including a 15″ laptop compartment, padded tablet pocket, large mesh pocket, and more.
Best Zipper-less Carry-On
Tired of wrestling with zippers every time you pack or unpack? Arlo Skye’s carry-on uses TSA-approved clasp locks (you can set different combination codes if you want) so you can open and close your suitcase with a snap. The exterior is a durable polycarbonate shell with an aluminum frame, and there’s an anti-microbial lining inside to keep things fresh. A removable USB charger can charge your phone halfway in just 30 minutes.
Best Spinner Carry-On
Lightweight and durable, the Samsonite Freeform will be a breeze to wheel through airports, narrow streets, and more. It has multi-directional 360° double wheels, a built-in TSA lock, multiple pockets inside, and a wide handle that’s easy to grip. It comes in a variety of colors to stand out in the overhead bin.
Best International Carry-On
For international trips, this carry-on is short and wide to maximize packing room. It’s made out of a durable ballistic nylon fabric and lightweight hybrid fiberglass frame. There’s amain compartment and built-in tri-fold garment holder to protect more fragile or wrinkle-prone clothing. And it has technology that can expand the bag up to 34% and compress it back down, so feel free to buy an extra souvenir or two.
Best Under-Seater Carry-On
For short trips, light packers, or anyone who likes to have their luggage within eyesight at all times, this Delsey is designed to fit under most airplane seats and is stylish and roomy to fit the essentials. It has two wheels, zipper pockets on the exterior and interior, and top and bottom handles. A smart band on the back lets you slip it over a larger suitcase if you’re traveling with multiple pieces.
Best Splurge Hardside Carry-On
If you really want to travel in luxury, a polished Rimowa aluminum suitcase will help you do so in spades. Designed and engineered in Germany, the original Cabin S is lightweight and durable, with a sleek desin and distinctive grooves that will turn heads when you walk by. There are TSA-approved locks and are adjustable dividers inside to keep all your suitcase contents secure and organized.
Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.
Loading More Posts...